Prep football: Gulf Coast pulls away from Ferguson, 35-21, in preseason contest

GULF COAST 35, MIAMI FERGUSON 21

MF 0 13 8 0 —-21

GC 0 21 7 7 —35

Second quarter

GC—Huff 34 run (Goulding kick), 11:41

GC—Smith 17 pass from McCormick (Goulding kick), 10:57

MF—Trastoy 1 run (kick blocked), 6:49

MF—Alvarez 6 pass from Villadiego (Taborda kick), 4:18

GC—Rittberg 9 pass from McCormick (Goulding kick), :30

Third quarter

MF—Braddy 73 fumble return (Trastoy run), 1:55

GC—Zuluaga 5 run (Goulding kick), :09

Fourth quarter

GC—Zuluaga fumble recovery in end zone (Goulding kick), 2:33

— The brand-new FieldTurf at Gulf Coast was home to a weird, pass-happy and fumble-filled tuneup for next week’s real deals Friday night.

This game between Class 4A Gulf Coast and Class 6A Miami-Ferguson featured more than 50 passes and 16 fumbles.

Gulf Coast, which was 7-4 last season, beat Mariner 43-0 in the spring game, and kicks off the regular season at Golden Gate next week, held on for a 35-21 win.

Sharks junior quarterback Darby McCormick — who has taken over for the graduated Jeff Schmidt — hit Zac Rittberg for 25 yards, setting Gulf Coast up on the Ferguson 9. Two plays later, Sebastian Zuluaga crashed in from five yards for what proved to be enough for the win with just nine seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Zuluaga added a bizarre TD with 2:33 left when he fumbled at the Ferguson 6, but somehow managed to recover it in time to stay in bounds at the back-left corner of the end zone.

The 6-foot-1 McCormick completed 21 of 34 passes for 186 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. Kyle Huff had 50 yards and a TD on just three totes.

The Gulf Coast defense — which returned seven starters — held Ferguson in check for most of the night. The Falcons had just 194 total yards.

Gulf Coast struck first, after linebacker Dana Luebbe recovered a fumble from quarterback Sebastian Villadiego at the Ferguson 34. Next play, Huff scooted 34 yards up the middle for a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Fumbles — the Falcons would have 10 and lose five — continued to plague Ferguson as Rafael Acosta’s cough-up was pounced on by a host of Sharks at his 24 after the ensuring kickoff. Two plays later, Korenzo Smith made a diving grab of McCormick’s pass in the left corner of the end zone for 14-0.

Ferguson, though, drove 80 yards on its next possession, capping it with a 1-yard Luis Trastoy dive. Shawn Normil blocked Bryan Taborda’s kick, though, and the Sharks led 14-6 with 6:49 until intermission.

Next series, Javier Molina swiped the ball from Huff at the Gulf Coast 24 and returned it to the 4. On third down from the 6, Villadiego hit Jonathon Alvarez — the ball whipped through the hands of Sharks defensive back Zach Santoro — in the back left corner for 14-13.

Michael Colligan’s block of Taborda’s punt gave Gulf Coast the ball at the Falcons’ 25 with 1:37 left until the half and the Sharks took advantage with McCormick hitting Rittberg from nine yards out to make it 21-13 at halftime.

Huff again fumbled, this time on a fourth-and-1 attempt. Steven Braddy returned the ball 73 yards for a TD, and a 2-point run by Trastoy knotted this at 21-all with 1:55 left in the third.

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